LILONGWE, Apr 3 – A Malawian court on Friday rejected pop icon Madonna’s request to adopt a three-year-old girl, on the grounds that it could open the door to human trafficking.
"I must have to decline to grant the application to Madonna," judge Esmie Chondo said in a ruling following a closed-door hearing.
Madonna’s lawyer Alan Chinula did not speak to reporters as he left the High Court in Malawi’s administrative capital Lilongwe. The star was not seen at the courthouse.
The judge said that if the courts began facilitating international adoption, their rulings could open the door to trafficking in children.
"By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts by their pronouncements could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals who would take advantage of the weakness of the law of the land," she said.
The judge also said that since the girl was admitted to one of Malawi’s best orphanages, she was no longer facing the poverty she endured after her mother’s death during childbirth, mitigating the case for adoption.
"It is evident that Chifundo James no longer is subject to the conditions of poverty at her place of birth, since her admission at Kondanani orphange," the ruling said.
"I must confess that there’s a gripping temptation to throw caution to the wind and grant an adoption in the hope that there will be a difference in the life of just one child.
"However, it should be borne in mind that inter-country adoptions may not (be) and are not the only solution," it added.
The singer and actress arrived by private jet in the southern African state on Sunday accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter Lourdes and three-year-old David Banda, whom she adopted in 2006 after seeing him in a Malawian orphanage.
The following day she filed her application to adopt Chifundo "Mercy" James, sparking fresh controversy over foreign adoptions.
Rights groups, led by the Human Rights Consultative Committee, a coalition of 85 groups, have objected that the impoverished southern African state does not have a law on inter-country adoptions.
But Chinula, Madonna’s lawyer, has insisted the law had been followed to the letter.